Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for staying.
Plexi. The Blue Rags. Green Magnet School. The Evil Tambourines. The Yo-Yo’s.
These names and many others like them seem now inextricably synonymous with Sub Pop Records. It is, however, not solely a history written in forgotten failures. For there has also been a handful of almost-was-es, one or two kind-of-closes, and an occasional bonafide barely-profitables. It is for this legacy of small percentages that, tonight, Sub Pop Records is being honored by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Recording Academy.
Sub Pop began sometime in the late 1980s by two gentlemen who met each other somewhere and did something that eventually led to them releasing some records. The early years of Sub Pop were marked by a clarity of vision and an unwavering sense of integrity: two qualities that co-founder Bruce Pavitt seemingly took with him when he left in 1990-something.
It was during this period that remaining co-founder, and tonight’s honoree, Jonathan Poneman earned the still popular inter-office nickname, The Impotent Wizard.
During the next several years, as Sub Pop’s status, credibility and cultural significance waned, Mr. Poneman took an unorthodox approach to resuscitating his company by embarking on an increasing number of lengthy overseas vacations to some the world’s most sacred spiritual centers in an attempt to add some glint of meaning to an otherwise empty existence.
It was during this period that he earned the still popular inter-office nickname, The Absent Ghost.
Recently, Fortune’s Bird of Pity seems to have found a friendly perch on Sub Pop’s fetid hovel as, over the last four years, they have enjoyed an unlikely string of critical and commercial successes that can only be attributed to two factors: luck & institutionalized racism. In an accidental misplacement of funds that has been mistakenly heralded by some as charity, Sub Pop has also been a key contributor to such worthwhile institutions as The Service Board and The Vera Project. Never mind that Mr. Poneman still believes the both of these to be code names for two of his many phony tax shelters and offshore accounts.
It has been during this most recent period that he has earned the still popular inter-office nickname, The Clueless Detective.
In reciting this history, perhaps you are like me in wondering why Sub Pop and Jonathan Poneman should be deemed worthy of receiving this otherwise well-merited award when I can’t even find a girlfriend. The answer, I’m afraid, is “I Don’t Know.”